Blog Post

Tiger iSync Madness

Upgrading to Tiger introduced a few “interesting” iSync-related “features”.

  1. /Applications/ no-longer will sync items to your .Mac account. Controlling .Mac Sync features is now handled in System Preferences –> .Mac –> Sync Tab. You’ll notice there is a “[x] Show status in menu bar” checkbox at the bottom. Checking this will indeed show an iSync icon in the menu bar. But this icon only gives you access to .Mac Sync, not /Applications/, which brings us to the next “feature” Tiger introduced:
  2. /Applications/ can no-longer be accessed from the menu bar. Sync Now 1.0, a 3rd-party application, attempts to address this travesty.
  3. /Applications/ will no-longer sync Contacts and Calendar to your iPod. This is now solely handled via iTunes. It would appear it also no-longer allows us to schedule automated syncs to our devices.

What we used to be able to achieve with a single click or entirely automate in the background before Tiger is no-longer possible.

In Tiger, synchronizing non-iPod devices requires us to explicitly dig out from the Finder and open /Applications/ Synchronizing contacts and calendar info to iPods requires us to open iTunes. Synchronizing anything to .Mac requires us to open System Preferences –> .Mac –> Sync Tab, or use its menu item.

Where’s Apple headed with this? I fail to understand how this new reorganization of synchronizing tasks is beneficial to end-users? Were people corrupting their Address Books by having too many data sources in the mix?

The fact that the menu bar .Mac sync icon looks exactly the same as what used to be /Applications/’s menu bar icon was insanely confusing to me. Right after the upgrade, I kept triggering .Mac syncs wondering why the t610 wasn’t also being synchronized, wondering what went wrong with my system.

17 Responses to “Tiger iSync Madness”

  1. After just upgrading to tiger, i mourn the loss of iPod syncing with iSync. My iPod is as much a handheld calendar/addressbook as it is a music player, and I liked just having iSync pop up – I didnt always want to use itunes, and iSync launches much quicker and probably uses less RAM. Oh well.

  2. jerrya: you might consider an Archive Install from the Tiger DVD of your current system, and tell it to keep your accounts, settings and network preferences.

    It tends to fix obscure issues, while losing virtually none of your customizations. The old system will be backed-up in a folder called “Previous System” at the root of your HD. Some 3rd-party applications store installation configuration and license stuff in /Library/Preferences/ , so you might selectively copy stuff over from Previous System.

  3. The problem I have is that iSync keeps quitting since I upgraded to 10.4.3 from 10.2.8. Even when trying to ope preferecnes of iSync, it quits. When try to add devices, it quits, Any suggestion?

  4. .Mac is not an issue with me too but I’ve noticed some less-than-inspiring changes. Firstly now it installs an iSync agent running on a phone (Nokia 6600), which is probably a good thing in the end, allowing for a wider and better device support. It re-synchronized all my calendars and contacts couple of times before it settled with exchanging just updates.

    And another thing I noticed just a couple of days ago – at least newly added contacts can’t be sync’ed while Address Book is open.

  5. I went through this mess myself a month or so ago .. couldn’t figure out why my phone wasnt’ syncing since I was using the correct UI (from before SyncNow).

    Long story, but this experience forced me to learn a little more AppleScript. Used Prefab UI Browser ( to get to the “Sync Now” button of iSycn since the damned thing isn’t scriptable.

    While it wasn’t a ton of fun, now with a iCal event to open the AppleScript each day at 2pm life is actually better – and in Sync.

  6. Nigel Hughes

    As a new Mac user who purchased their Mac at 10.3.9 and has since upgraded to 10.4 (OK maybe I’m not _that_ new anymore, but I was using PCs for a long time before), I find the Tiger Sync features no worse than Windows.

    I don’t see anywhere in the market place a good solution that meets all needs (iPods, PDAs, Phones, Memory Sticks). For me, the MP3 player (iPod) integration and sync is fantastic, my file and settings sync is done by scripts and although not easy for every user it is certainly easier than it was on Windows.

    Address book and Calendar…. I’m also in a lot of different time zones, and every solution has screwed something up at some point. OS X doesn’t do anything to improve that, but I didn’t see it get worse at 10.4.

    Any how, I’d still upgrade in a heart-beat, and although it’s no defense for Apple, _I_ still feel pretty silly moaning about smaller features when using a computer suddenly became pleasurable for me again last April.

    And PNG is clearly the right format for screen-shots you fools ;-)

  7. Tiger also introduced a new problem: correctly remembering a .Mac password when connecting via System Preferences. Every time it is corrupted. If you try to connect to your iDisk via the Finder, the mouse cursor turns into a perpetual spinning ballon and you must restart the Finder. The only solution is to type in your correct .Mac password via System Prefs and then immediately click the iDisk tab, then connect to your iDisk via the Finder. However, next time it will not work! Well done Apple! Has anyone discovered this and found a better solution???

  8. Jason Terhorst

    I would agree with Kevin. This isn’t a big deal if you only have an iPod and only sync that. Having it all in one spot is nice. However, if Apple is crippling iSync in the process, and killing features that people liked before, without offering something better and more obvious, then I would be worried.

  9. Walt French

    Synch has been a mess for me for some time. Every month I travel thru multiple time zones, and have found myself “synchronizing” more than 10,000 events as my PDA, iCal, iPod, etc., got confused. Takes hours and I risk losing info from hangs, “memory full” errors on my phone, etc.

    Looks to me as if Apple is moving towards making synchronization a utility feature of the OS instead of a standalone app. That could mean better ability to coordinate actions on multiple devices, to update different types of data that an app (think, a shared project manager) requires, etc. For now, however, it still suffers from disturbingly not-quite-there-ness. For a firm that thinks its products are “digital hubs,” Apple offers shockingly jumbled synch.

  10. It’s not just a minor change in the UI. What used to be a one-stop shop for syncing needs, is now split into three different places: the .mac syncing pane in the System Prefrences, iPod syncing in iTunes, and iSync for everything else. This is one of my pet peeves with Tiger, as this is a change that really doesn’t make much sense.

    When you make an UI change, you would want to change it for the better – now, you have a more complicated situation than before (unless, of course, you just used iSync to sync your contacts with your iPod).

  11. swissfondue

    Ben wrote “It’s really reports like these that prevents me from switching to the 10.4 tiger goodness.”

    Spotlight is the main reason I upgraded. Also smart folders are a fantastic time saver/organisational tool.

    I agree with Kevin that the iTunes synching to my iPod is more user friendly.

  12. It’s really reports like these that prevents me from switching to the 10.4 tiger goodness. I love 10.3.9, it’s running perfectly for me in almost every single little detail, and I’m really afraid for it to be broken by the upgrade.

    I’ve never loved an OS so much that I’m afraid of changes, even if they’re possibly for the better.

  13. Hi Jeff, “this site” has 12+ authors. So there are quite a few opinions expressed by different people, all of which exist to spark thought and discussion. If you disagree with a statement that is made you are encouraged to post stating your own view.

  14. You know, the other day this site asserted without argument that PNG is the wrong format for screen shots. Now this site asserts that a simple and minor change to the user interface is a “travesty.”

    Senseless negative hyperbole is not endearing. I’m unsubscribing from this site’s feed.

  15. I don’t use .Mac so that stuff doesn’t bother me, but I do prefer having all iPod-related syncing done with iTunes. It used to really bug me that every time I plugged in my iPod, iSync would launch and I’d have to quit it manually. But now that iTunes does it all, since I always have iTunes open it’s a cinch.